Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pink Brandywine Tomato harvest

Dear Folks,

This is for those who want a 'beefsteak' tomato from the desert garden, and do not think we can grow them.  Generally that is true.  Folks usually have the most success with short maturity varieties (70 days and under).  I am won over on this one.  The plant set bunches of fruit and there are still many in various ripening stages, so I'm looking for more fruit to set before the 80+ night time temps stop that process.

Farmer Phil had some extra tomato plants I was selling for him at the Mesa Farmers Market and he raved about the Pink Brandywine, an heirloom with various origin stories.  So I bought one and planted it approximately February 15/16th (I did not mark the exact date).  On February 20th we had that incredible day of snow, rain, hail and grapple!!!  I did cover the plant with a chicken wire hat and towel - no damage.

Pink Brandywine is listed with 80-100 day mature range.  This is an interesting 'potato-leaf' variety with leaves quite different from standard tomatoes.  I have been letting the plant sprawl - planted in the same well as one of our small citrus trees - in full sun. We have been out of town for exactly 2 weeks and they were just getting to this size right before we left.  As you can see - "someone" was sampling them - could have been birds, bunnies or squirrels.  I will cut the damaged part off and harvest the seeds from the damage area.  I'm thinking BLTs for dinner :-)

So how did they do -- In the picture, you can see 4 huge fruit, harvested this morning and placed on a 9 inch paper plate for the photo.  I took the largest one (with the longest stem) and measured and weighed it.  4 inches wide and 11 ounces on my kitchen (non-digital) scale.  We sampled another damaged one yesterday when we got back from our trip and the taste is pure, lovely tomato.

Thanks, Phil, you were right - these are great.  (Phil is or will be selling his heirloom tomatoes at the Mesa Farmers Market (Fridays) until they stop fruiting.)

In the same well I am also experimenting with San Marzano plum tomato (got the plant from Phil also and planted it the next week) to see if I can get great paste tomatoes for sauce.  This was one of those 'gauntlet' thrown down when my friend Marcello said you can't grow good tasting San Marzanos in the US - I'm going to see how they turn out :-)  I love a garden challenge.  The plant has set fruit and some of it is starting to color - yeah!

. . .
With Memorial Day Weekend coming up think about using your herbs to enhance food on the grill.  Kabab skewers made from the woody parts of herbs like rosemary.  Herb infused oils for basting.  And layers of herbs to envelope filets of chicken or fish.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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